Goldsmith on Maori seats

Auckland City Councillor Paul Goldsmith has a forceful op-ed:

What’s the harm of having three on the new Auckland City Council, as recommended by Justice Peter Salmon and his Royal Commission on Auckland Governance? In my view, plenty.

The best indication of potential harm is the bizarre suggestion democracy should be thrown out the window for one of the Maori seats so that one councillor is appointed by mana whenua.

What is the model that we’re emulating? Fiji’s Great Council of Chiefs, the British aristocracy’s hereditary rights to sit in the House of Lords? An unelected group of men from one ethnic group, and possibly one network of families, decides who goes on to the council?

I have to say that if one is to have direct Maori representation, it is reatly preferable that it be by democratic vote of those on the Maori electoral roll, not a private appointment by an Iwi.

It reflects a worrying trend. The implication in retaining democratically elected Maori seats has been that to be represented in a democracy in the same way as everyone else is not good enough for Maori. Now we are being told that having specific Maori seats is also not sufficient for Maori, there needs to be direct appointments by Maori elders as well.

Indeed. And already there are calls that one mana whenua representative is not enough, but there must be two – one for Ngati Whatua and one for Tainui. They can’t possibly share.

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